A thought comes to mind after witnessing the very public unravelling of cricketer Mohammed Shami’s personal and professional life: ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.’ Yesterday, Hasin Jahan, the cricketer’s wife of four years came out all guns blazing against her husband on Facebook, accusing him of having affairs. She had a cache of electronic evidence to prove her point, which she duly shared on her FB wall for the world to see. And within hours, these screenshots of sleazy messages that the cricketer allegedly shared with a few women on Whatsapp and Facebook were all over the internet. She has since then deleted the FB post, but the damage has already been done and Mohammed Shami is officially living the nightmare every married man dreads.
Bear in mind, we don’t want to school anybody on morality. Firstly, marriage is a sacred institution; anyone who desecrates is scum. Irrespective of the offender’s gender, it is never OK to cheat on your spouse. Second, we don’t want to lecture Hasin Jahan on her decision to go public with the allegations…yet. Maybe she was overwhelmed by her rage and grief, and dealt with it in the way she deemed best. Now since we got that out of the way, let’s address the elephant in the room: the media trial and the debates of ‘she was right’ versus ‘she wasn’t right’ that will follow.
An overwhelming number of people seem to side with Hasin Jahan’s public outing of her husband’s infidelities. “Serves him right!” is all that we got to hear immediately after the scandal broke out. We love instant Saudi-Arabia style justice, and despite being the world’s largest democracy, we have an absolute disregard for basic democratic rights, which is also extended to offenders. Comments like “He should be castrated/ hung the by b***s” or “Leave him to the public. We will take care of him!” about rapists are common on social media. It doesn’t help that our media is overenthusiastic, acting like the judge, jury and executioner even when the case is sub judice. Let’s not forget the times when people have suffered due to our eagerness to have them punished.
Aarushi Talwar case
The Aarushi Talwar case is a blotch on our conscience. Everyone from the local police to the CBI and the media gave us a masterclass in how a case shouldn’t be handled. Evidence was contaminated, reputations were smeared and in the end, two people who cared most about the victim endured a grief of a lifetime. Everyone had turned into an expert and had their own theories about the case. “It’s a gut feeling that they did it,” is what most people had to say. But the prosecution couldn’t prove beyond reasonable doubt that the parents were guilty. But by then, the damage was done and the Talwars are now trying to find a semblance of sanity in their life, which was destroyed first by their child’s death and then by media trial. For all you know, the Talwars may be guilty. But whatever happened to the maxim “Innocent until proven guilty?” or have the adjectives switched place?
The Rohtak sisters’ case
In November 2014, a video went viral on social media where two girls were seen flogging young men with belts in a bus. Initially, it was reported that the girls Pooja and Aarti from Kharkhauda were defending themselves from goons who had allegedly molested them. The media was quick to label them as “bravehearts” and was broadcast on all news channels. Two of the boys Kuldeep and Deepak were returning after a recruitment exam for the army on the fateful day. They were later barred from taking the exam, following media allegations that branded them as molesters.
The Republic TV debacle
If there was an award for jumping the proverbial gun, Republic TV will win hands down. MLA Jignesh Mevani’s much publicised Yuva Hunkar Rally turned out to be a damp squib, but it became controversial for other reasons. A Republic TV reporter Shivani Gupta was heckled by the Mevani’s supporters due to the latter’s ideological problems with the news agency. Republic TV meted out instant vigilante-style justice by circling and shaming the offenders in the video, one of which happened to be an innocent ABP TV reporter. After realising their mistake, Republic TV was forced to eat their own words and apologise to the reporter who was maligned as a goon by the channel.
Rohan Joshi’s Reddit allegation
AIB’s Rohan Joshi was accused by a Reddit user of molesting a woman last year in March. The incident followed close on the sexual harassment case slapped against TVF’s Arunabh Kumar, who was accused of inappropriate conduct with his female colleagues. Luckily for Rohan, the thread was soon deleted and replaced with another contrasting post, apologising and saying that the incident never happened. By such irresponsible finger pointing, the poster has affected the credibility of women who are struggling to fight sexual harassment cases.
Media is just reeling in from all the criticism it garnered after the botched coverage of Sridevi’s death. Had the UAE authorities delayed releasing the actress’s body any more, viewers would have jumped the gun and held Boney Kapoor responsible for her death. The news channels were moving in that direction anyway. Even in Mohammad Shami’s case, all we have are accounts of a scorned woman, who is seething from her husband’s cheating. How much of the case and information are we privy to? Was it really his number? Were they really his chats? But we are all convinced of his guilt. And even assuming he is guilty, should Hasin Jahan’s washing of dirty linen in public become a benchmark for cheated partners everywhere? But one thing is for sure, by this move, Hasin Jahan has opened her and her daughter's life to more media scrutiny.